Is That Really Madonna Singing?

'What's new, Buenos Aires? I'm new; I want to say I'm just a little stuck on you. You'll be on me too," Madonna sings enthusiastically in the upbeat and lively tune "Buenos Aires."

But when the people of Argentina heard that Madonna would be playing the role of the country's legendary first lady, Eva Peron, they didn't share her enthusiasm. And for the most part, they still don't.

Yet after lobbying for and winning the role of Evita in the upcoming film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1978 musical, "Evita," Madonna began taking intense singing lessons to strengthen her voice. It was money well spent.

On this two-disc, two-hour musical presentation, she ventures into new territory, taking her voice places it has never been. She can make the low notes and hit the high ones, and she sings more vigorously and confidently over lush orchestrations and powerful choruses. The lyrics, written by Lloyd Webber and Rice, are cleverly written.

Madonna's costar, Antonio Banderas, plays the narrator, Che Guevara. He sings with intensity and passion, but Madonna is the one who succeeds at capturing the listener's attention. It's evident she did most of the legwork since she sings on almost every track of this demanding score, which is more operetta than Broadway musical. The best-known number, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," is sprinkled throughout the CD, and Madonna sings it with beauty and grace.

From Material Girl to musical theater star, Madonna continues to reinvent herself - with controversy never far behind.

The movie premieres on Christmas Day.

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